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News :: Human Rights
Sunday, October 29th: The Federal Invasion of Oaxaca City
29 Oct 2006
Today, thousands of riot police from the Federal Preventative Police (PFP), armed with shields, batons, and automatic weapons, began the invasion of Oaxaca City, the capital of Oaxaca state, Mexico. The federal forces, under the cover of snipers in helicopters, are using light tanks, water cannons, and bulldozers to slowly remove the hundreds of barricades that have blocked the streets of Oaxaca City since the police were run out of town in June by protesters demanding the resignation of the state governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz.
Click on image for a larger version

According to APPO’s website, more than 30,000 Oaxaca residents and APPO members have been in the streets all day, peacefully resisting the invasion, keeping the federal forces surrounded as they march through the city to prevent violent police attacks. The protesters who have vowed to be non-violent, have been carrying white flags and roses, and bringing food to members of the PFP who have been under-nourished with some officers even fainting.

There are, however, countless reports of police brutality coming from the streets. The PFP are entering homes and arresting random citizens, as well as the leaders of the APPO. They are using teargas released from helicopters, water cannons, and water mixed with an unidentified chemical that burns the skin to try and break the people’s will. For most of the day, the people of Oaxaca resisted completely peacefully, lying down in the path of the PFP, and continually getting driven back by violence and brutality.

Then at 2:30, (Oaxaca time) at least 1000 people stood up to the advance of 300 PFP officers in 20 buses crawling towards the center zocalo, which protesters have occupied and used as a public meeting space since May. Protesters punctured tires of 2 of the vehicles and smashed the windows with rocks, forcing the outnumbered police to retreat.

Thousands of valiant members of the Popular Assemblies of the People of Oaxaca, an open, public and directly democratic decision-making body that has been in control of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico since June, have succeeded in preventing hundreds of PFP from seizing the center zocalo of Oaxaca’s capital, Oaxaca city. As of 4:55, Oaxaca time, according to El Universal, the police, who had invaded and occupied the zocalo with 4 stolen buses, have been driven 4 blocks out of the center. Protesters have popped the buses’ tires and are using them to blockade the zocalo.

According to an APPO update, at 5:00, the PFP using helicopters kidnapped a 36-year-old man, and many others including women and children, beating them widely in Love Park, which is 7 blocks from the center of the city. At 5:09 pm, Oaxaca time, the PFP shot a man at point blank. According to the APPO’s website, he was one of tens of thousands guarding the bridge to the Technological Institute, which is under police siege.

The people of Oaxaca are focusing their defenses on two strategic locations, the center zocalo and, more importantly, the only remaining APPO occupied radio station, Radio Universidad, both of which are under attack from the PFP.

Federal forces have had Oaxaca City, a strong-hold for the new movement of the Popular Assemblies, completely surrounded since Friday when right-wing paramilitaries in plainclothes attacked unarmed people at a couple of the barricades. The attacks killed 4— NYC Indymedia journalist Brad Will, and Oaxaca residents Emilio Alonso Fabián, Eudocia Olivera Díaz, and Esteban Zurita López—and injured 11. The paramilitaries have been identified as members of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz’s PRI party: two members of Santa Lucia's city council, two of that town's police officers and a former justice of the peace from another town.

Vicente Fox, outgoing Mexican President who has long vowed to “restore order” to Oaxaca before he steps down on December 1st, used the PRI’s cowardly violence as an excuse to invade Oaxaca and repress the directly-democratic APPO. Even if he succeeds in this repression, however, he will only bolster the resolve of the movement for Popular Assemblies, which is looking to take decision-making power from the hands of politicians and bring it back to the people in the form of public, open, direct democracy (popular assemblies). Right now, a third of the Mexican states have built their own popular assemblies, many of which have mobilized today in support of the people’s struggle in Oaxaca.

For constant updates, check:
APPO’s Spanish-language page:

This work is in the public domain